Poets ought not to be far from their words

I enjoy reading books on writing. It’s a great way to situate oneself in the tribe, as a writer amongst writers. The best books on writing offers a sense of belonging and purpose.

This year I have read six such books, and am currently immersed in book no. 7; Diane Lockward’s The Crafty Poet. A Portable Workshop.

Lockward’s book differs from most books on writing, in that it is a kind of collage –with 56 poets contributing to the composition.

The book is divided into ten chapters, covering different aspects of the craft such as; what generates material, diction, sound, voice, revision … The Crafty Poet assumes a basic understanding of poetics.


The Crafty Poet is a book which makes you write. And it has the most valuable craft tips–spread throughout the text.

Just listen to this, from Pam Bernard:

Craft Tip # 4: Words with Muscle (abridged)

When crafting a poem, I am concerned most with how to sharpen the sense of enactment, which can create a conduit for the reader to more deeply enter the experience I wish to convey. (…) It is an issue of the creation of a visceral experience on the page—right there, right then.

But how can we create words that mean more than the sum of their parts? Chiefly it is through valuing craft—by shaping, and reshaping language towards enlarged meaning. Words become a breathing, palpable presence, a region of correspondence between reader and writer.

Poets ought not to be far from their words.

The poem is not a relic of an emotional experience, but the experience itself.


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